by Jacqueline Colognesi
Jane Cunningham Croly (1829-1901) was a prolific 19th-century journalist whose achievements extended far beyond the written word. Portrait of Mrs. J.C. Croly ‘Jennie June’
Croly, under the pen name “Jenny June,” began writing newspaper columns for a female readership in 1855. Over the course of her 40 year-career, Croly innovated the newspaper syndication system, and her by-line appeared in every state across the nation. She also founded several women’s societies in her day, all dedicated to the advancement of women’s causes- Sorosis (1868), The Women’s Press Club of New York City (1889), and The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (1890). Lastly, she became the first woman professor of journalism in the United States.
Though Croly did much to advance the rights of women, she was also a traditionalist and her work was not without conflict. Her successful career was compounded by late nights at the office and limited hours with family, but Croly was still a product of her time. Her writing often indicated that she believed a woman’s true place was in the home. It also offered contradictions, irresolute on ideas such as womens education and their relationships to men.
Despite the incongruity between her published work and social work, Croly was an original and a true advocate for women. She may have started out carving a path for herself, but she ended up forging a way for all women to follow in her footsteps.
To see the exhibit, go to: http://aphdigital.org/GVH/exhibits/show/j-c-croly